4-Hers learn math and science can be fun

MINERAL WELLS – Who knew that dishwashing liquid, vegetable oil, corn starch, baking powder and bubble mix could be so much fun?

Mixing the magic potion for their wands and battling each other in “bubble wars,” Wood County 4-Hers may not have even been aware they were actually learning about science and what’s more – it was fun doing it.

The campers spent this week doing crafts, learning some dance steps, singing around the campfire, participating in games and activities, and learning that science and math can actually be fun through a program in its first year at the Butcher Bend 4-H Camp this week.

“We’ve had more than 320 4-Hers at our camps, including our weekend camps this month. The camps started June 1. We have weekend camps for 5-10-year-olds; they come out for just one day and one night at the beginning of camping season. Then we have camp for those 13 and older, then horse camp, which is for all ages and includes kids from all over West Virginia. The last camp is 9-12-year-olds; it ends this weekend,” said Jodi Smith, West Virginia University Extension Service and 4-H coordinator for Wood County.

Smith said the numbers of campers was up this year. There are 18 4-H clubs with about 600 members in Wood County.

For the first time this year, a West Virginia University student participated in the local 4-H camp as part of the Science Technology Engineering and Math Program.

“He is here for an educational component, working with the kids with different activities to introduce them to discovery, creativity, science, math, technology, those are such a big area of employment for the future and we really need to get these kids engaged in these types of activities,” Smith said. “This is the first year we’ve done it, the program was introduced last year, they go all over the state, he’s working with the robotics class and the electronics classes as well.”

Cecil O’Dell of Ravenswood is studying physics, computer science, astronomy and philosophy and is an undergraduate research assistant in the WVU Physics Department.

“I’m showing the kids different ways to make math and science exciting and that those skills can be useful in whatever career they decide to go into. In today’s economy, we are seeing the need for these skills. I want to show them that math and science aren’t as rigorous and boring as some might think but can be exciting and fun. We want to make it interesting for them, coming up with new ways to address problems and discover new technology and devices to make our lives better,” O’Dell said.

O’Dell said he never participated in 4-H as a child, but having spent the week at the local 4-H camp, he said he would have loved to be part of the 4-H program.

“I want to help them find the career that will really excite them, something they will look forward to doing everyday,” he said.

Sophia Mitchell, 11, participated in Wood County 4-H camp for five years then her family moved to Charleston, South Carolina, but she loved her experience so much she came back to her former home to spend part of her summer at Wood County 4-H Camp.

“I loved camp and I missed all my friends,” she said.

Smith said a number of the youth from The Arc of the Mid-Ohio Valley’s Summer Day Camp also come down to Butcher Bend to participate in the camp activities with the 4-Hers.

The campers do arts and crafts, they learn songs, participate in campfires, games, sports, dancing, leathercraft, learn about career options, fishing, archery, learn leadership skills, all types of activities, Smith said.

“The older 4-Hers, our teen leaders serve as camp counselors,” she noted.

For more information on the Wood County 4-H program contact the WVU Extension Service office on the fourth floor of the courthouse. Office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday or call 304-424-1960.